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Could ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy explore what a modern family looks like in its upcoming 15th season?
To hear stars Kevin McKidd (who plays Owen) and Kim Raver (who plays Teddy) tell it, the forthcoming season of the ABC medical drama is poised to feature a new take on a love triangle and what that looks like when three adults all have feelings for one another — and there are children in the picture.
Season 14 ended with Teddy returning to Seattle (presumably) full-time and (very) pregnant, likely with Owen’s child, after the longtime friends finally had their night together in Germany. After a years-long wait to be together, it wasn’t smooth sailing for the former military buddies when Teddy kicked Owen out after she found out that he still was romantically involved with ex-wife Amelia (Caterina Scorsone). In terms of Amelia and Owen, the writing was on the wall for a romantic reconciliation between the duo, who divorced after learning that their marriage was a likely result of the former’s brain tumor. Making things extra complicated is the fact that Amelia is caring for young Betty (Peyton Kennedy) as she battles addiction, while Owen recently adopted her infant son, Leo.
“The interesting love triangle that’s probably going to happen is going to be very different from the typical love triangle,” returning series regular Raver tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re in 2018 and I pitched, if we can, not having woman pitted against woman. Amelia and Teddy definitely have what they want, but maybe there’s a different way for us to approach it. And the writers seem very interested in that and we’re hopefully going to head in that direction. I think that will open up a very different storyline. [Showrunner] Krista [Vernoff] has informed me a bit on how we’re going to do that and it really seems like an amazing storyline. I can’t talk about it, but it’s a device in the storyline to make the love triangle different than we’ve seen it in the past.”
While it’s unclear just what storytelling “device” will help evolve the Grey’s Anatomy love triangle, one idea could be to depict what a modern family looks like — at least to start the season. Longtime viewers know all too well just how much Owen has always wanted children, and now that he’s a father who must be responsible for his young son, the character is going to need to evolve. That means another love triangle like the ones in the past — think the drama between Teddy, Cristina and Owen — simply can’t be in the cards for the character at this point in his life.
“Owen and Teddy and Cristina had a very intense, slightly juvenile love triangle,” McKidd tells THR with a laugh. “What they want to do [now] is show people who have histories and have feelings — all three of these people [Owen, Amelia and Teddy] have a lot baggage and history with each other. And there’s children involved, which is a responsibility. It’s not just young people going, ‘I love you … I don’t know who I love.’ They’re grown-ups now. It’s going to be interesting to see how people navigate this pretty murky and difficult and challenging news.”
That news will include Owen learning of Teddy’s pregnancy, which McKidd said Owen was still blissfully unaware of as of episode two of season 15.
“It takes a minute for that news to be slammed on Owen,” McKidd says. “I think he’s going to be a bit vapor-locked for a minute. He’s been yearning for a family and a child for years, and now he’s got too many kids! You have to be careful what you wish for!”
The season 14 finale set the stage for Amelia and Owen to rekindle their romance as they both co-parented Betty and young Leo. Both seemed to be happier than at any point during their tumor-induced marriage. And both are likely to be blindsided by Teddy’s return and pregnancy as Amelia has always known that Teddy longed for more than a friendship with Owen.
“Owen and Amelia have been enjoying that post-tumor time together and this very adult endeavor of going, ‘We want to be there for these two children who need us,'” McKidd says. “I like where they’re at and where they’re headed because they’re both being quite adult. It’s bringing out the best in them. It’s creating a lot of attraction to one another — they’re seeing the best in each other again. They’re genuinely going, ‘Maybe we do have another chance.’ In the midst of all that, Teddy is coming back. I don’t know what she’s going to be like with Owen. I don’t think she’s going to show up being, ‘I miss you and I love you,’ because she didn’t want to speak to him ever again the last time she saw him. It’s going to be really fun — he’s got more love than he can handle!”
Season 15’s larger theme, Raver says, is the “season of love,” with Vernoff bringing back the balance of comedy and drama that Grey’s Anatomy blended so well in the past: “This season, there are a lot of shenanigans with different relationships.”
But at the same time, Vernoff continues to take on topical subjects as she did in season 14 with its exploration of unconscious bias and its portrayal of transgender characters, among other storylines. That could help tee up an exploration of what a modern family — with three parents and three children — looks like.
“Krista is very woke in a very dynamic way, not in a didactic way. And that is really hard to do: to not be preaching it but be walking it. Grey’s has always been willing to dare and not just to be trendy — it’s just because that’s what we have to tell. That’s what we want to see,” Raver says.
Grey’s Anatomy is set to return with a two-hour season 15 premiere on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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